I wish all of you a Happy Father’s Day! Only on this day, and in some families on our birthdays, do we fathers get to indulge ourselves, sleeping in, watching what we want on TV, and eating what we want. This is the second Father’s Day that I will spend without my children, a regrettable circumstance created by our mobile society, a family legacy and unhappy economic times.
While most of the world’s population live and die within 50 miles of their birthplace, Americans are much more mobile, seemingly genetically programmed to follow the adventurous nature of their ancestors in seeking out new territories to raise their own families. I, like my father before me, left my parents’ home after high school and set out for a place to make my own future; my father had gone west to Oklahoma and then to Colorado. I went to New York and then California. My father, and his father before him, believed strongly that a man should put the welfare of his family before all else and should go wherever he could make the best life for his own family.
My father would return to his childhood home in Memphis, TN, after his father’s death in 1957. I would return to Memphis in 1998, seven years after my own father’s death. I did not return to Memphis willingly, but the military base closures and realignments of the 1990s forced our departure from California. My own son was born in San Francisco and still lives in the Bay Area with his wife and our two granddaughters. My daughter who was also born in California, went to Georgetown and still lives in Washington, D.C. We have hopes that she will return to the Mid-South eventually.
Because of our mobility, we do get to see our children frequently, if not always on major family holidays. When I say grace this evening before dinner, I will thank God for all our blessings and ask that at some future Father’s Day our children will once again join us.
In the meantime, I will share my Father’s Day dinner with my wife and my surrogate children, i.e., my Scottie, Cairn and Italian Greyhound, and my stepdaughter (my wife’s Toy Poodle…you know, the relative by marriage who hates you, but you’re obligated to invite anyway). As much as I miss my son, daughter and grandchildren today, I know that the herd, my dogs, will still keep me smiling and entertained. Life is good. And that’s today’s Back Story